NBeing a parent, I am never without raisins. The raisin jar is always refilled at the weekly shop, which is used in many negotiations. Meanwhile, in adulthood, raisins have long been undervalued. They had a moment in couscous salads in the early 90’s (and, more locally, in my mom’s raita), but I think it’s about time they got liberated. The Southern Italians know they are great at cooking and use them liberally in pasta con le sarde with fennel and in a baked spinach dish with pine nuts, both of which I borrowed to make today’s recipe.
Bulgur pilaf with fennel, raisins and pine nuts
Preparation 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 4 for lunch
300 g bulgur wheat
50 g pine nuts
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp fennel seed
1 large onionpeeled and thinly sliced
2 fennel bulbstrimmed and thinly sliced, green leaves reserved (500 g net)
1 tsp fine sea salt
3 cloves of garlicpeeled and finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato puree
350 g baby spinach
125 ml dry white wine
Place the bulgur in a heatproof bowl, add 450 ml of boiled water, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside.
Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the pine nuts and raisins and cook for three minutes until the nuts are lightly golden and the raisins begin to swell in the fire. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Put the oil in the same pan and when it is hot, add the fennel seeds and fry for a minute. Stir in the onion, fennel and salt, cook for eight minutes, then add the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for two more minutes.
Add the spinach hand by hand and stir into the mixture to wilt (this may take a few minutes). The spinach will release water, so cook it off completely, this should take about five minutes. Add the wine and let that sizzle too.
Loosen the bulgur with a fork and stir through the fennel mixture with some raisins and pine nuts. Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice, taste and add more lemon if necessary. Ladle into a large serving bowl, top with the chopped reserved fennel leaves and remaining pine nuts and raisins and serve.